Debate on proposed ATV park heats up

Planner: City does not have a final proposal for Fish Creek Quarry site

Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2007

Douglas residents made impassioned pleas Wednesday night to the city to reconsider the all-terrain vehicle park proposed at Fish Creek Quarry in North Douglas.

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Noise, safety, hours of operation, enforcement and changes in property values were some of their main concerns.

But off-road-vehicle supporters said there are limited areas to enjoy their chosen sport and they should be given the same consideration as others who recreate around the community.

More than three dozen people attended the somewhat contentious neighborhood meeting, set up to hear concerns and comments from people on the proposed park.

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The city does not have a firm date or finalized proposal for a conditional-use permit to bring before the Juneau Planning Commission, said Daniel Sexton, a planner for the Community Development Department.

The ATV user-group Rough Riders AK, along with the city's Division of Lands and Resources, submitted the proposal to build an ATV park near Fish Creek Road.

Karen Wells said her first concern about the proposed park is the noise.

"I do believe that ATVs should have a place that they can call home," she said. "I'm not opposed to the sport, but I don't think that anybody should have to listen to that if they don't choose to."

Andy Mills said he supports the proposed park because it would expand the recreational opportunities for the community's youth.

"This town certainly needs a number of more recreational opportunities for people my age, those under 40," he said. "I can't tell the number of friends that are not wanting to come home. They're not wanting to come back to this community, because there are no opportunities for us to enjoy what many other cities in Alaska offer."

A number of the North Douglas residents who live near the proposed site expressed major concerns about the hours of operation and the effects on the character of the neighborhood. The proposal calls for the park to be open year-round from 8 a.m. to midnight.

The majority of people who testified Wednesday night opposed an ATV park at the proposed location.

Debbie Lowenthal said her property is about 350 feet from the proposed park. She said her family intentionally constructed their home away from the road.

"I have a multitude of concerns regarding the proposed ATV park, including increased North Douglas Highway traffic, noise, uncontrolled activity at the park," she said.

Lloyd Mitchell said what the city considers acceptable when it considers approving the park may not be considered acceptable to the residents of North Douglas.

"The value of our properties is going to go down from this," he said. "I'm sure our taxes won't go down."

Jason Bluhm said there are hundreds of trails for people to use around the community and ATV users should have a place to recreate as well.

"Things in this town are very limited in what you can actually do as far as motorized recreation of any sort," he said.

Tisa Becker, who grew up in North Douglas, said she supports the proposed park because it would expand recreational opportunities.

"Using an ATV is part of the Alaska spirit, along with skiing, snowboarding, biking and hiking," she said.

Jim and Nadine Tracano said they moved to North Douglas to get away from noise.

"The big thing to me is their noise is going to affect me," Nadine Tracano said. "It's going to affect me, it looks like year-round, and I think that's unfair."

Jim Trucano said there are other places that could be considered for such a park, not a residential area of North Douglas.

"I just don't believe it should be in my back yard, your back yard or anyone else here's backyard," he said.

North Douglas resident David Audet said the off road vehicle users have damaged and caused problems over the years at all the areas they have been allowed to recreate at.

"Now the city wants to dump these people off in the North Douglas neighborhood?" he said. "I think it's absurd. I'm astounded that you're actually using city resources and time to consider this half-baked proposal."



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